UNCLE JEFFREY, FIGUREHEAD, TURTLE ISLAND & RAKSHA AT THE HQ LEEDERVILLE

Friday, 23rd May 2015
Words: Carrie Taylor

Friday night saw the likes of local bands Uncle Jeffrey, Figurehead, Turtle Island, and Raksha bring to Leederville HQ their unique and powerful sounds, which were made all the more impressive by how young many of the performers were. The friends, families, and fans of these groups flocked to the venue, and the atmosphere was continuously changing with the comings and goings of all these people along with the distinguished music each group treated us with.

UNCLE JEFFREY

Uncle Jeffrey - Photography courtesy of Sam Perrignon

Uncle Jeffrey – Photography courtesy of Sam Perrignon

Uncle Jeffrey - Photography courtesy of Sam Perrignon 2

Uncle Jeffrey – Photography courtesy of Sam Perrignon 2

The evening kicked off with indie-pop/rock outfit Uncle Jeffrey, a young but incredibly assured five-piece whose talent far surpasses their years. Jamie Simcock’s zealous yet seemingly effortless vocals, thickly layered guitars, resonant bass lines, and powerful drums instantly caught the attention of their audience and made for a balanced, captivating performance. Uncle Jeffrey’s set included singles ‘Shades of Green’ and ‘Something Cheesy’, as well as equally impressive tracks such as ‘Wrath and Rage’ and ‘Little Brown Bird’. ‘Something Cheesy’, their most recent release, was played in the middle of the set; an upbeat tune characterised by catchy, bright guitar riffs which set it apart from the majority of their tracks’ more overdriven sound. Being a more familiar track, it had the crowd buzzing with energy as they basked in its infectiousness. Casual chatter and gestures ensued between the band members and their friends in the crowd while they prepared for upcoming songs, making for a relaxed atmosphere while also conveying just how normal these kids were despite their incredibly developed sound that will almost certainly lead them to success. Simcock’s vocals were showcased in the band’s closing song ‘Shades of Green’ with subtle delay and eerie wails over muted guitar coupled with a steady, prominent bass line, and faint cymbals. The clean, minimalistic verses led into a grungy chorus complete with attention-grabbing fills, and this track held its intrigue until its final notes, which also ended the promising young band’s set. The enthusiastic performers had no trouble engaging their audience for the duration of their set, and how tight and precise it was (particularly impressive for guitarist Ben who seemed to be equally focused on fixing his hair) sure made them a tough act to follow.

FIGUREHEAD

Figurehead - Photography courtesy of Rollo Photography

Figurehead – Photography courtesy of Rollo Photography

Figurehead, who formed in 2014 and took out second place in the 2015 Sound Overload Battle of the Bands just a year later, were next to the stage, gracing us with their unique brand of alt-pop that had an unmistakable classic-rock feel to it. Having supported the likes of fellow Perth rockers The Love Junkies, these guys were no strangers to the stage, which came through in their cool, confident performance. In rushed a new influx of eager watchers, mostly younger people, which brought a youthful, energetic atmosphere to the venue and made for plenty of ‘interesting’ dance moves in response to Figurehead’s irresistible sound. Keen for the audience to get the most out of their set, vocalist Matt Murphy urged the crowd to come closer to the stage, and it can be safely said that nobody had to be told twice; collectively surging towards the band with such ardour that it was impossible to be content with remaining on the outskirts of the group. These boys sure knew how to woo a crowd, and had them drawn in from the get-go with their opening track ‘Benches’, which introduced us to Murphy’s dulcet vocals, and the upbeat but soothing guitar melodies that ran through their set, culminating in ‘Blind’, and ‘You Got Me’ which closed the it. The latter stood out from the rest, with huskier vocals, heavier guitar, a contagious chorus, and longer instrumentals which showcased the artists’ range of abilities. The end of Figurehead’s set was met with well earned cheers and applause as they made way for the next band.

TURTLE ISLAND

Turtle Island - Photography courtesy of Pippa Hall

Turtle Island – Photography courtesy of Pippa Hall

Turtle Island followed on from Figurehead’s solid performance, and it was evident just from the way they sauntered casually onto stage that this was an environment they felt completely at home in. From the very beginning of their set, you couldn’t help but be filled with awe and fascination by their fusion of post-punk and math-rock, with definite but not overpowering psychedelic elements reminiscent of the 60s. Turtle Island got straight down to business with their splintering opener ‘Esther’. We were eased into the track with swirling, building distortion, then hit with a delicious wall of sound courtesy of unrelenting guitar and drums, and Tom’s frantic, throaty vocals that didn’t lose their fire until the song was over and the crowd was visibly wanting more.

Turtle Island - Photography courtesy of Bridey Eggleton

Turtle Island – Photography courtesy of Bridey Eggleton

The insanely creative amalgamation of often obscure textures, sounds, and time signatures within Turtle Island’s set made for one hell of a listening experience. It was evident from their utter absorption in nailing the set that creating such a unique, multidimensional sound took a great deal of concentration, collaboration, and above all, talent. The atmosphere Turtle Island brought to the small venue was slightly mellower and darker, and they attracted what seemed like a more mature crowd who were enthralled by the mysterious and fierce sounds they emanated. While this group engaged less with the audience than the others, this in no way detracted from their performance; only making the us all the more intrigued in what was going on up there. The group treated us with five more equally thrilling tracks, including ‘Television’ and ‘Do You Remember’, before dropping their most recent tune ‘Vivid’. This final track was full of striking detail that, through its ever changing tempo and mood, embodied what Turtle Island is all about and was definitely a dramatic way to end their set.

RAKSHA

Raksha - Photography courtesy of Raksha 1

Raksha – Photography courtesy of Darcy Jensen

Raksha - Photography courtesy of Raksha (2)

Raksha – Photography courtesy of Darcy Jensen

Raksha - Photography courtesy of Raksha 3

Raksha – Photography courtesy of Darcy Jensen

Raksha - Photography courtesy of Raksha 4

Raksha – Photography courtesy of Darcy Jensen

Raksha, another young group, changed up the dynamics with their 6-piece featuring 2 females, and delivered a stunning 6 song set, which again attracted a new group of fans who filled the small venue with their enthusiasm. Raksha have developed a strong following since their formation in 2013 thanks to their unique sound characterised by a merging of folk, jazz, rock, and tracks that somehow manage to feel familiar (in the best way possible) at first listen. Raksha opened up with melancholy tune and fan favourite ‘Patterns’, featuring watery guitars and a simple but powerful bass-line, topped off with the layered and versatile vocals of Amber Scates and Josh Green. The atmosphere of the night was at its peak during Raksha’s set as a result of their addictive tunes, and the crowd they attracted were evidently more familiar with the set than the other groups’ audiences had been, not surprising considering the catchy, sing-along choruses they never fail to produce. The lively crowd was further energised when Josh briefly jumped off stage to join them, and the band’s gratitude towards their supporters was expressed repeatedly throughout the set. ‘Fake Friends and Good Times’, with its pronounced bass, soaring, perfectly executed vocals, and a bold guitar solo and synth outro for good measure, was another crowd pleaser played early on in the set, and encapsulated the many facets of this gifted band. Lesser known tracks like ‘Rot’ and ‘Downstream’ also received the reaction they deserved, and brought both Raksha’s set and the night to a close. Raksha have already accomplished a number of notable feats, and it was evident from their captivating performance that this success is bound continue and grow.

Friday night perfectly captured just how much talent Perth has been producing recently, and each with band producing tight, compelling, sets, it was easy to forget that plenty of them were teenagers. These groups have already built up solid followings in their short times together, and are definitely destined for bigger and better things. If you haven’t already had the fortune of stumbling across Uncle Jeffrey, Figurehead, Turtle Island, or Raksha, I highly recommend that you head down to one of their upcoming gigs to experience everything they have to offer.

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